Who was Mata Ortiz?

Juan Mata Ortiz was a general in the Mexican army during the Mexican war with the Apaches. He was killed in 1882.


In 1924, the town of Pearson, Chihuahua, Mexico was renamed Mata Ortiz in honor of the general. Today the 1,100 citizens often refer to their town as Mata.

Who is Juan Quezada?

Juan Quezada Celado, a resident of Mata Ortiz, is usually credited with being a pioneer in teaching himself and others on the ancient craft of pottery making that is commonly called the Casas Grandes style.  Juan was subsequently discovered by Spencer MacCallum. And the rest, as they say, is history.  The Mata Ortiz pottery phenomenon was born.


View a video about Juan.

Who is Spencer MacCallum?

Born in 1931, Spencer MacCallum, graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelors in art history and received a Masters of Arts in social anthropology from the University of Washington. He specialized in studying the life, culture and stateless society of Northwest Coast Indians.


In 1976, he met Juan Quezada.

What are the important dates?
  • 700-1475 AD the Paquimé culture developed.

  • 1200-1400 AD was the height of the Paquimé culture, which was the largest in Puebloan world (Bigger than Mesa Verde, Chaco). “City” was 80 acres, located on a trade route. They dug wells and irrigation channels. They built ball courts, religious and ceremonial structures, and homes. They raised macaws and turkeys.

  • 1500s The Spanish called the area Casas Grandes, “Big Houses”.

  • Juan Quezada Celado was born May 6, 1940 in Santa Barbara Tutuaca, Mexico. When Juan was one, his family moved to Mata Ortiz.

  • 1952 Juan discovered his first potsherds from the Paquimé culture.

  • 1953 Juan went into a cave in the mountains and discovered a three-legged stool with an undamaged pot sitting on it.

  • 1958-1961 Charlie De Peso and William Shirley Fulton from the Amerind Foundation worked with the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology to excavate Paquimé.

  • 1976 Anthropologist Spencer MacCallum visited Mata Ortiz and met Juan Quezada and his extended family of brothers, sisters, their children and neighbors.

  • December 2, 1998 UNESCO declared Archeological zone of Paquimé in Casas Grandes a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • 1999 Juan Quezada was presented The National Award in Science and Arts by the president of Mexico.

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